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PSNI investigates possible Covid breaches at funeral of well-known republican in Derry

The PSNI said a “significant” number of people gathered for the cortege in Derry.

An officer outside Stormont Buildings.
An officer outside Stormont Buildings.
Image: PA

THE PSNI HAS said it is investigating the possible breach of Covid-19 regulations at the funeral of a well-known republican in Derry yesterday.

The funeral of Eamon McCourt, aged 62, was held in the Creggan area yesterday, and despite engagements beforehand about the need to adhere to Covid restrictions, the PSNI said “a significant” number of people gathered for the cortege.

Sinn Féin MLA for north Belfast Gerry Kelly told BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback that he was “fairly certain” there were no MLAs present at the funeral.

Sinn Féin was not involved in organising the funeral and it had been organised by the man’s family, he said.

“There is a family grieving, and people are living through very difficult times, and arguably at the moment they’re the most difficult of the pandemic. But people need to adhere to the public health guidelines.”

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a Sinn Féin spokesperson said that the party did not organise the funeral, and that it was arranged by the family.

“I’m conscious that the family is now grieving after burying a loved one,” the spokesperson said. 

“People are living through very difficult times, arguably the most difficult of the pandemic but people need to adhere to the public health guidelines.

“This is now a matter of a police investigation so it wouldn’t be proper to comment any further.”

Chief Superintendent David Jones said: “Over the weekend, police became aware of a funeral planned for Monday which had the potential draw a significant number of people.

“As a result, we engaged with representatives of the family of the deceased, the local church and local political representatives. Across these engagements, we emphasised the need for adherence to the current health protection regulations. 

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“As a result, we were given a number of assurances as to the conduct of the funeral, and that people would seek to pay their respects to the deceased from outside their homes rather than gather at the funeral. 

“Regrettably a significant number of people gathered as part of the cortege, in a manner likely to be in breach of the health protection regulations.

“As a result, police have commenced an investigation into the matter, and where individuals are identified as potentially being in breach of the regulations they will be reported to the Public Prosecution service with a view to prosecution.”

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